Oil Blocks: Those Who Own Nigeria

Shell oil heads leaking at K-Dere, Ogoni.

By Eric Elezuo

“Wherever you find oil, corruption creeps in and wherever you find diamond war emerges.”

Pre-independence Nigeria has so far been reputed as the most economic vibrant period of the Nigerian nation. This is because the regions were economically dependent on self, and were able to do great and mighty projects from their self-produced commodities. These commodities included but not limited to groundnut in the northern parts, cocoa in the west and palm oil in the east.

The regions maximized the production of their signature products, and developed appropriately as well as exported to foreign countries thereby generating foreign exchange for maximum development.

This self-sustaining trade in agro-allied products continued until the discovery of oil in 1959 in Oloibiri, in the present day Bayelsa State, and the tide of revenue generation changed. In the same way, the pendulum swung directionless, leaving Nigerians at the mercy of the liquid, which today has polarized the nation.

Ever since then, petroleum has become a magic wand, and whoever has access to it has automatically becomes the magician with the magic wand. These people are the owners of Nigeria; these people are the deciders and policy makers of the Nigerian nation. But who are they?

As the debate for the much talked about, but halfly implemented 13% derivation generates discontent among producers of petroleum, mostly people of the South South region, the Senator representing Akwa Ibom North East, and Chairman, Senate Committee on Business and Rules, Ita Enang, released a bombshell, revealing that 83% of oil blocks in the country are owned by the northerners, who do not by any means produce oil.

Senator Ita Enang had made this revelation as opposition to the 10 per cent host community fund by mostly northern senators was loud, describing it as “misplaced”.

Enang has promptly pulled out a document from his folder and reeled out oil blocs and their owners when he was mandated to prove his allegation, saying it was not his intention to divide the nation but to guide those who wanted to contribute to the debate to be truly informed.

He listed northerners who own oil blocks to include Alhaji Mai Deribe, Borno State and owner of Cavendish Petroleum, which operates OML 110 with an average of about N4billion monthly.

He also listed Seplat/Platform Petroleum, operators of the ASUOKPU/UMUTU Marginal Field with Mallam (Prince) Sanusi Lamido, Kano, as a major shareholder and director.

South Atlantic Petroleum Limited (SAPETRO) established by General T. Y. Danjuma, Taraba State, who is also chairman of Eni Nigeria Limited.

According to him, SAPETRO partnered with Total Upstream Nigeria Limited (TUPNI) and Brasoil Oil Services Company Nigeria Limited to become operators of the OPL 246 while AMNI International Petroleum and Development Company, operating OML 112 and OML 117, is owned by Alhaji (Colonel) Sani Bello of Kontangora, Niger State.

He also noted that former Petroleum Minister and former OPEC Chairman, Rilwanu Lukman, another northerner manages AMNI oil blocks while Oriental Energy Resources Limited, a company owned by Alhaji Indimi, runs three oil blocks – OML 115, the Oldwok field and the Ebok field.

Continuing, Enang said that Alhaji Aminu Dantata’s Express Petroleum and Gas Limited, operates OML 108 and OML 113 allocated to Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Limited is owned by Alhaji W.I. Folawiyo. Alhaji Saleh Mohammed Gambo, North East Petroleum Limited, is the holder of the OPL 215 Licence.

North East Petroleum was awarded blocs OPL 276 and OPL 283 and closing thereupon a Joint Venture Agreement with Centrica Resources Nigeria Limited and CCC Oil and Gas.

He said that INTEL is owned by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the late Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and Ado Bayero. It has substantial stakes in Nigeria’s oil exploration industry both in Nigeria and Sao Tome and Principe.

He informed as well that Mike Adenuga’s Conoil is the oldest indigenous oil exploration company with six blocks. OPL 291 was awarded to Starcrest Energy Nigeria Limited, owned by Emeka Offor, which was sold to Addax Petroleum.

Enang urged the Senate to cause the immediate revocation of all oil blocks licences and their redistribution, in accordance with the Federal Character Principle.

He said: “My submission is that when you look at the distribution of those who own oil blocks and the amount of money that comes from the different oil blocks to the Federation Account and you see the owners of these oil blocks, you will agree with me that there is inequity in the distribution of oil blocks.

“The oil is produced in the Niger Delta yet it is the people of the Northeast and the Northwest and a little of the Northcentral, almost nothing of the Southwest and the Southeast, that are the persons owning and controlling these oil blocks.

“Almost nothing for the Southsouth, Niger Delta oil producing areas.”

He concluded by saying that “What some of the oil wells and the owners of the oil wells produce in a month and take as profit is sometimes more than what two or three states receive from the Federation Account.”

Considering that ownership of oil blocks automatically confers ownership of Nigeria, it will not be out of place to say that the North and northerners are the owners of Nigeria.

However, contrary to Enang’s claim, another investigation has revealed that 88 per cent of the oil blocks are owned by multinational oil companies.

A breakdown of oil leases granted operators showed that the total number of Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) in operation by December 2012 was 109, while Oil Prospecting Leases (OPLs) stood at 92.

The Federal Government had in 2012 set a production target of 2.48 million barrels per day (mbpd), of which 1.5 million barrels of oil per day (mbpd) were expected from the onshore and shallower water terrain, while deepwater concessions accounted for 900,800 bpd, which are currently controlled by the multinational companies.

Of the 2.48 mbpd produced last year, the entire production by indigenous companies totalled 276,000 bpd, accounting for about 11 per cent of Nigeria’s production.

Among the IOCs, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) produced 605,539 bpd, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (Exxon Mobil) – 528,000 bpd, Chevron Nigeria – 489,999 bpd, Total Elf – 400,134 bpd, Agip – 98,284 bpd; and Addax  – 90,489 bpd respectively.

In comparison, local oil companies led by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), the exploration and production arm of the NNPC produced 125,828 bpd in 2012, Seplat Petroleum – 40,033 bpd, Pan Ocean – 7,387 bpd, while others described as independent marginals produced 102,797bpd.

But irrespective of who owns the larger share of the oil blocks, the oil producing areas, for whom Enang spoke, has asked for a total revocation to make for even redistribution according to Federal Character Principle

“In fact, if there are 18 oil blocs or 36 oil blocks, we don’t mind that you give us at least four, Northeast four, Southeast four, Northwest four.


“At least, let there be equity, but then there should be the principle of who owns it and then you give us more,” he said.

But how does one get allocation of oil blocks. The Nigerian Constitution gives “absolute and sweeping powers” to the President and Commander in Chief in Section 191 to grant petroleum licences to whoever he pleases. As a result, the Presidents and Heads of State that the country has produced were responsible in granting or rather selling the nation to a few individuals, local or foreign, who are running it at their beehives at the moment.

Whoever holds the wealth of the nation, whether the foreigners or northerners as being revealed, it should be understood that it all smack of inequality and lopsidedness in Nigeria’s flawed federalism. A typical example of ‘monkey dey work, baboon dey chop’!

The Northern Senators’ opposition to the proposed redistribution which is the hallmarkof the secession and restructuring agitations of today lends credence to the fact that in reality they are the beneficiaries of the flawed status-quo.

And just like George Orwell said in his popular ‘Animal Farm’ novel, All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others…


Nigeria has a total of 159 oil fields and 1481 wells in operation according to the Department of Petroleum Resources. The most productive region of the nation is the coastal Niger Delta Basin in the Niger Delta or “South-south” region which encompasses 78 of the 159 oil fields.

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